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Home Blog Is substance addiction affecting your relationships?

Is substance addiction affecting your relationships?

Posted by Alex Molyneux
on 19 Jul 2022

When you have a recurring desire to keep taking drugs or alcohol, despite harmful consequences, it can affect relationships with partners, colleagues, family and friends.

Substance addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain and makes it impossible for the person to control their behaviour. This can have far-reaching consequences from marriage breakdowns and childhood neglect to job losses and legal disputes. If substance abuse is affecting the people around you, it’s time to reach out for help.

Delamere is a residential wellness retreat situated in Cheshire that specialises in treating all types of drug addiction and alcohol addiction. We often help the family and friends of people who are suffering with substance use disorders to stage an intervention and help their loved ones get back on track. This article explains how substance addiction can affect your relationships and what you can do to rebuild your lives together.

What is substance addiction?

Substances can include anything from heroin and cocaine to alcohol and prescription drugs. Even though someone may use and abuse substances, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are addicted. Experts believe an addiction can be diagnosed when a habit becomes an obligation (1).

There are generally considered to be five stages of addiction. This starts with the first moment someone tries alcohol or drugs, progresses into regular use and risky use, and ultimately ends in dependence and addiction.

Substance addiction is different from behavioural addictions, such as porn addiction, gambling addiction or internet addiction, because in the latter the person is addicted to a feeling rather than an action (1). In substance addiction, the person becomes physically and mentally reliant on drugs or alcohol to function.

How substance addiction affects couples

Many couples who are affected by substance addiction will seek help from a relationship counsellor or therapist. If your partner is drinking heavily or taking drugs, you’re likely to argue more and start to feel resentful towards them. The substance abuser may even become violent and lash out. If both partners have a substance addiction, they may start to only enjoy times together when they’re under the influence.

When someone drinks or takes drugs to excess, it can be difficult to find that person attractive, which also has an impact on intimacy within your relationship. A breakdown of trust and respect creates a distance between partners and makes it hard for two people to love each other as they once did. On the flipside, being drunk or high can also attract unwanted advances.

If your partner has a problem with alcohol or drugs, there is help available. Specialist wellness retreats, like Delamere, offer intensive residential rehab programmes that are focused on psychotherapies to help you and your partner identify the underlying reasons for addiction and learn how to cope without relying on substances.

Is substance addiction affecting your relationships? Contact us

How substance addiction affects family members

Whether it’s a parent, child or sibling, substance addiction affects all members of the family. The negative consequences of a substance use disorder include unmet needs, estrangement, money problems, legal difficulties, emotional issues and, sometimes, violence. Research shows children who live in abusive households are at significantly higher risk of developing a substance use disorder themselves (2).

Substance abuse tends to run in families and can be a deep-rooted problem for multiple generations. Some family members may even be enabling each other – a father and son might be ‘drinking buddies’ while watching football, for instance. This is especially difficult if one party wants to stop abusing substances but feels like it will change the family dynamic.

It can be hard to approach a family member about their drinking or drug-taking. Delamere can help family and friends stage an intervention to stop the cycle of substance abuse. Getting involved in the rehabilitation process can give your relative the best chance of successful recovery and give you tools to help them when they leave our care.

How substance addiction affects friends

Substance addiction can really take its toll on your friendships, too. The person with a substance use disorder may start to neglect the most basic principles of your relationship, such as kindness, honesty, trust, support and boundaries. You might not want to spend time with this person or stop inviting them out because of their embarrassing behaviour. Your friend who has a substance addiction may have sudden mood swings, become disinterested in activities they previously enjoyed and neglect school or work.

It’s important to talk to your friend and tell them your concerns. Delamere regularly helps family and friends who are worried about their loved ones and unsure how to offer them support. Our holistic therapists use one-to-one counselling and group therapy work, as well as a range of somatic healing techniques, to give you and your friend the support you need.

How substance addiction affects colleagues

Someone you know at work may also be abusing substances. This can become obvious if they’re making silly errors, taking lots of time off, having accidents or shirking their responsibilities. They may even be displaying some obvious physical signs of alcoholism or drug abuse, such as glassy eyes, dilated pupils or slurring words. It’s important to speak up if this person operates machinery or drives for a living and is putting themselves or others at risk.

These problems can all put a strain on your working relationship, especially if you find yourself making excuses for their behaviour or covering up their mistakes.
If you can’t approach your colleague directly, try to speak to a manager or someone else at work in confidence to get the right help. The Health and Safety Executive offers advice for employers on how to manage drug and alcohol use at work.

Delamere treats alcohol addiction and drug addiction at our wellness retreat in Cheshire. We understand how substance abuse impacts all areas of your life, bother professionally and personally, and can give your colleague space to recover in safe, non-judgemental surroundings.

Is substance addiction affecting your relationships? Contact us

How can Delamere help with substance abuse?

If substance abuse is affecting your relationships, we can help. Delamere welcomes enquiries from partners, colleagues, family and friends who are concerned about someone with an alcohol or drug addiction. We have a range of intervention services to get your loved one the support they need.

In the first instance, we can organise a clinical drug or alcohol detox to allow your friend or family member to withdraw from substances safely and comfortably. Once we’ve tackled the physical dependence on substances, we will concentrate on psychotherapy to get to the root cause of the addiction and begin recovery.

Our unique three-stage approach takes a holistic approach to treating substance abuse disorders. We work with our guests to stop cravings, start the healing process and grow beyond addiction. Involving everyone in the process means we can see the problems from every angle and come up with the best therapeutic techniques to restore relationships and help you all move on with your life.

If you think you may be addicted to substances, call us confidentially to speak to a member of the team today. Contact Delamere


  1. Alavi, S. S., Ferdosi, M., Jannatifard, F., Eslami, M., Alaghemandan, H., & Setare, M. (2012). Behavioral Addiction versus Substance Addiction: Correspondence of Psychiatric and Psychological Views. International journal of preventive medicine, 3(4), 290–.
  2. Lander, L., Howsare, J., & Byrne, M. (2013). The impact of substance use disorders on families and children: from theory to practice. Social work in public health, 28(3-4), 194–205. https://doi.org/10.1080/19371918.2013.759005.

About the author: Alex Molyneux

Alex is the Admissions Manager at Delamere. Alex has organised more admissions into treatment than most. Find out more about Alex on our team page.

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